Do your people feel responsible for innovation?

The last question Gary Hamel asked in his short 9-minute video was: Do you feel personally responsible for innovation? This raises many issues. In another post, I will discuss accountability and measures. This post discusses how to get your staff to buy in to ideas for innovation.

A simplistic way to look at people and innovation is some people are ideas people and some people are not. If this is your view then how will the people who are not “generating ideas” people feel any responsibility for innovation?

The quickest way to dispense with this myth is to explain: innovation is about generating ideas AND selecting ideas AND implementing ideas. So, feeling responsible for innovation can mean: generating ideas or selecting ideas or implementing ideas. We all understand people bring different skills and preferences to work. Whether we use DiSC or MBTI or HBDI to classify behaviours, personalities or thinking styles, we should understand different people have different strengths during different stages of the innovation process.

When we designed the Solve Your Impossible Problem process we included all three parts of the innovation process. We also designed the process to ensure people with different preferences could contribute throughout the innovation process: left-brain logical and right-brain creatives; introverts and extroverts.

The process is designed to solve impossible problems, fast. One of the unexpected by-products of the process was discovering that the group who had been through the process—selecting impossible problems, generating ideas and selecting ideas—all had great buy-in to the chosen idea for solving the impossible problem. With hindsight this seems obvious: they had been through a process and understood how this was the best idea to solve the impossible problem. Less obvious is they had examined the problem and potential solutions with many different perspectives, using the different strengths of the group at different stages of the innovation process. They contributed and they all felt responsible for this innovation.

How do we grow this feeling of responsibility for one innovation? Part of the process is to implement the idea fast. Once the group sees they can make a difference to solving a problem, fast, then they discover a secret: Innovation is addictive. After a one-day process, being able to solve real problems fast shows people what they can do with a fun and effective process to produce better results, fast.

So, to make your people responsible for innovation, give them a process to solve impossible problems fast and produce results fast.